Pre-selection committee statement


"The 21 films selected for this section comprise a vibrant snapshot of short-form documentary filmmaking around the world in these turbulent times at the end of the 21st century’s second decade. A wide range of subject-matter is addressed in an impressive variety of forms, testifying to the ability of directors and their collaborators to craft works which express what needs to be expressed within the most suitable time-frame.

Approaches range from the dazzlingly experimental to the tried-and-tested journalistic; essay-films reach far beyond the headlines to discover surprising audio-visual means to bring complex issues to multi-dimensional life. While most of the productions are totally or partly European, the selection is truly global in scope and encompasses locations ranging from Colombia to the Sahara to a tiny island in the Indian Ocean.

One running theme which unites many of the disparate films this year is the sheer resilience of the human spirit in the face of daunting economic, social and/or environmental circumstances. Rather than opting for detached, objective reportage many of the filmmakers immerse themselves within their protagonists’ (often challenging) landscapes, allowing the viewer a real sense that they are experiencing the reality of situations which will in most circumstances be dramatically different from their own.

The selection of Norwegian films indicates a need to stretch the short-film form onto a relatively expansive canvas: their running-times are, on average, significantly longer than those of their international counterparts. This may turn out to be a trend, or just a statistical blip: in any case, these longer shorts in no way come across as compressed or chopped-down, instead they speak of an authorial confidence that promises the audience significant rewards for their patience and their investment in time.

As is often the case across the short-film world, a little humour can often go a very long way; as well as being moved, touched and informed, the selectors were often “tickled” too, reminded of how important laughter can be — especially in times of worrying geo-political trends, when it’s all too easy to succumb to pessimism and gloom. Eccentric, marginal and offbeat behaviour is, in several instances, respectfully celebrated — including the exploits of those whose lives take them to the very edge of the law and perhaps even beyond. From wild youth to the joys and pains of the elderly, these short films together provide glimpses of unique lives that have inspired bold, uncompromising works of art."

Christer Fasmer (b. 1973) is a director, film photografer and producer, and one of the founders of the company Flimmer Film in 2000. He was one of the people behind the award winning documentary series “Asylbarna”, which received the award for Best Short Doc at Bergen International Film Festival in 2015. Fasmer also won Gullruten in 2009 for the reality series “Den store reisen”.

Karen Winther (b. 1978) graduated from the Norwegian Film School in 2012. Her first documentary “The Betrayal” is a personal film about her experience in Norwegian extremists groups as a youth, which premiered at IDFA and later received several prices. In her second documentary «EXIT» she keeps exploring the violent extremist from a personal point of view, and how extremist can change their attitudes. It premiered at CPH:DOX in 2018 and received an Honorable Mention at Nordic Docs.

Neil Young (b. Easington, UK, 1971) reviews new films regularly for The Hollywood Reporter (Los Angeles) and has been a frequent contributor to Sight & Sound (London) both print and online since 2010. His other international outlets include MUBI Notebook (New York), KINO! (Ljubljana) and Tribune magazine (London).
Based in Sunderland and Vienna, he spends most of the year on the global film-festival circuit — he routinely attends more than 20 such events each year. He now works in a consultation/programming/moderation capacity for half a dozen festivals across Europe including the Viennale, and was the Director of the Bradford International Film Festival at the National Media Museum from 2011-2015.
He has lectured at (among others) the Austrian Filmmuseum, the Riga International Film Festival and last year’s conferences on Alexei Balabanov in Moscow and St Petersburg. A member of the international film critics’ organisation Fipresci, he has served on more than two dozen festival juries including Cannes (Semaine de la Critique). His short film Vilniu Detroit premiered at the Vilnius International Film Festival 2016.